Shopping patterns change when school is out and the temperature rises. I remember as a kid seeing signs advertising “Come in, it’s Kool inside” — a promotion of the pleasures of air conditioned stores sponsored by Kool cigarettes.  Today of course it’s assumed that all stores are cool inside, but that doesn’t diminish the pleasure of spending time shopping on a hot or rainy day.

What can you do to draw customers during the coming months?  Focus on fun summer activities, if that works with your merchandise mix.  We carry picnic baskets and barbecue tools, so we recently offered a free set of stainless steel tongs with any purchase of $25 or more. We promoted this special in our now-weekly email blast.  We’re trying to make good use of our email list by sending out short messages more frequently.  This does of course lead to some unsubscribes every week from customers who don’t wish to hear from us so often, but the benefits seem to outweigh the drawbacks.

Activities that draw visitors and families are always good, especially if there is a connection with something that you sell.  Almost every day is a special day of some sort, and perhaps you can tie-in with Hug Your Cat day on June 4, or Pineapple Day on June 27.  Check out the website Days of the Year for inspiration.

“Create a thread that will carry through your social media campaigns,” suggests Susan Solovic in a blog posting for Constant Contact. “You might use a “road trip” theme on Facebook, for example. As you “travel” to different states, highlight something about the state that relates to your product or service. If you are a retail establishment, create killer displays in your windows and throughout your store that are totally Pinteresting. Find ways to dovetail summer visuals with your business.”

Free lemonade can be a nice touch on a summer day — or you might consider taking a tip from retailer A Liengboonlertchai, who is featured in the new 4th edition of Specialty Shop Retailing.  Liengboonlertchai is the owner of Simplicity Decor and Simplicity ABC in Kirkland, WA.  He offers kids the opportunity to run a Lemonade Stand for a Cause in front of his shop, with proceeds going to the charity of their choice. In addition, the store donates 10 percent of the store’s sales to the chosen charity during each shift at the lemonade stand. A great way to make customers feel good about coming out to shop on a summer day!

Happy Retailing,

Carol “Orange” Schroeder